The National Library of Israel is the world’s largest collections of Hebraica and Judaica, and holds many rare and unique manuscripts, books, and artifacts.
Formerly Jewish National and University Library, this library is dedicated to collecting the cultural treasures of Israel and of Jewish heritage and holds more than 5 million books.
In addition, has large selection ancient manuscripts, rare prints, photographs, historical posters, personal and institutional archives, exquisite maps, and the largest and most expansive collection of Jewish and Israeli music in the world.
The establishment of a Jewish National Library in Jerusalem was developed Joseph Chazanovitz who dreamt of a “home for all works in all languages and literatures which have Jewish authors, even though they create in foreign cultures.”
Chazanovitz collected of some 15,000 volumes which later became the core of the first public library in the country to serve the Jewish community.
In 1925 the public library became the basis for a university library and the books were moved to Hebrew University on Mount Scopus.
In 1948, when access to the university campus on Mount Scopus was blocked, so most of the books were moved.
By that time, the university collection included over one million books.
Most were brought to the universities’ temporary campus but lack of space, some of the books were placed in storerooms around the city.
In 1960, the books were placed in the new Jewish National and University Library building.
Then, in 2007 the library was officially recognized as The National Library of the State of Israel and it was renamed National Library of Israel.
Today, the National Library is the central institution devoted to national memory, not only of the State of Israel, but also of the Jewish people dispersed across the globe.
The Library’s mission, by law, is to “collect, preserve, cultivate, and endow the treasures of knowledge, heritage and culture in general, with an emphasis on the Land of Israel, the State of Israel and the Jewish people in particular”.
Also by law, now two copies of all printed matter published in Israel, along with audio and video recordings and other non-print media, must be deposited in the National Library.
- Supreme Court of Israel
- Israel Museum
- Bible Lands Museum
- Jerusalem Botanical Garden
- Wohl Rose Garden
- Jerusalem Bird Observatory
The National Library of Israel’s Visitors Center offers free guided tours for visitors who register in advance.
On the tour you will hear the story of the National Library from its inception at the end of the 19th century to its renewal in the 2000s.
The guided tour includes a visit to the rotating exhibition that presents original items from the library’s collection, a viewing of the giant colorful stained glassed windows made by the artist Mordecai Ardon, and a visit to the Map Collection where ancient maps of Jerusalem and Israel are displayed.
The library is easily accessible including by public transportation and is made accessible to visitors with impairments. See the libraries direction page and the libraries accessibility page for more information.